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Honors Course Spotlight: Blugold Podcasting

| Heather Fielding

Is podcasting the future of storytelling? Find out—and take a stab at podcasting yourself—in one of our fall honors colloquia, Podcasting as Civic Engagement. 

Students in this course—otherwise known as Blugold Podcasting—will take up the questions of how and why we listen to podcasts—and what’s significant about this medium. Instructor Andrew Suralski says that it’s the way we listen—as much as what’s in the podcasts—that makes this medium particularly powerful. “Some listen while walking to class or going to the gym,” Professor Suralski writes, “while others put something on while cleaning their apartment. Because of the portability of the technology through which we’re accessing them (typically our phones) and because of their episodic nature, podcasts fit into our daily routine in a unique and interesting way.” 

Suralski, who also serves as the Assistant Director of the Center for Writing Excellence at UWEC, brings his expertise in rhetoric and composition to the course. He aims to help students get a better understanding of the rhetorical decision that goes into media production—for instance, how producers shape their audience, and how the conventions of the medium mold podcasts in ways we don’t often notice while listening.  

The course’s main objective, though, is to give students an opportunity to create media, not just consume it: students will become Blugold Podcasters. Working together, they’ll decide on a topic for the class podcast, and then, in small groups, they’ll create their own episode. Along the way, they’ll get hands-on experience with recording software and hardware, and they’ll learn about everything from how to do a good interview to how to brand their podcast for impact. 

Professor Suralski says that public radio drew him to podcasting. He’s a fan of NPR’s news-oriented podcasts like Up First and The NPR Politics Podcast, as well as their arts and pop culture podcasts All Songs Considered, Pop Culture Happy Hour, and It’s Been a Minute. Suralski writes that he’s also “a sucker for a well-researched and produced episodic thriller like Serial.” 

One of the highlights of the course for Suralski? It’s getting introduced to new material by his students, who are responsible for finding interesting podcasts and bringing them in for discussion.  

For more information about the course, check out our fall course catalog, or contact us at Podcasting as Civic Engagement is HNRS 156.501 and meets Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 1-1:50 pm.